Last week I finished up a repair on an Ulrich Teuffel Niwa guitar. Talk about a unique, innovative design. The guitar is just beautifully sculpted.
The reason it came across my bench is that it had deep scratches that covered a majority of the back of the neck. The customer wanted the scratches removed and brought back to new condition.
This job requires:
1. Separating the neck from the body.
2. Removing the scratches.
3. Refinishing the neck.
The majority of the scratches were removed using the steam method. Scratches and dings in wood are often just compressed wood fibers where no material is removed. Cuts and slices are another issue because those involve the wood being removed. The theory is that the steam is forced into the crushed wood fibers and causes them to swell. You usually cannot steam a dent in wood out perfectly, but they can be significantly reduced so that the subsequent sanding required is minimal. I used a clothes iron with a damp Wypall (heavy duty paper towel) to steam out the blemishes. The trick is to know how much heat you are dealing with in combination of how damp the towel is. The heat needs to be transferred to the damp towel only. It is very easy to dry out the towel and scorch the wood. Burning this neck would severely complicate an otherwise straightforward repair.
Steaming will only take you so far. After the neck dries out, the remaining scratches are sanded out along with the finish along the barrel of the neck. #0000 steel wool preps the neck for finish.
Ulrich Teuffel was kind enough to give me some information about the finish process on his necks (thanks Ulrich!). He takes polyurethane and applies a thin layer with a cloth. You let it sit for a day or so before you buff it out with #0000 steel wool. Really simple and clean, plus it makes the neck feel great.
Off to the hardware store to pick up a pint of clear matte poly.
Below is the finished repair. The neck looks great and you can never tell it was repaired.
The customer also wanted to experiment with a different bridge pickup to have it better fit his tonal requirements. Ulrich was generous enough to send a couple different pickups to experiment with. He makes is own pickups and they are really well designed. He has two solder pads on the bottom of the pickups, so you just use the existing leads routed through the body and make your connections right at the pickup. Quick and easy with an allen wrench and soldering iron.
After the minor repairs were finished, this guitar is back to brand-new condition. Certainly not a guitar that crosses your bench everyday, but as a builder myself I can appreciate innovative designs such as this.
Well done Ulrich!